Americans will spend $56 billion on their pets by the year 2014 according to a recent study by the American Pet Products Association. That means a huge opportunity for pet sitters and related pet businesses. But it also means a lot of competition. One way to stand above the crowd is to make sure you have the proper credentials and certifications.

Education in pet related topics will increase your credibility, and one way to show your customers that you are serious about that training is by getting the proper certifications. There are several programs that offer certificates in pet care. Here's an overview of some of the more prominent ones.

Pet Sitters International

PSI is a trade association that provides information and resources for pet sitters. The organization offers a comprehensive certification program that you can complete in the comfort of your own home. Coursework includes pet care, health and nutrition, business and office procedures and more. You have 6 months to finish the course and take a certification exam, after which you can use the Certified Professional Pet Sitters (CPPS) logo on your website and marketing materials.

National Association of Professional Pet Sitters

Another professional organization that caters to pet sitters is NAPPS. It also provides a certification program. The NAPPS Online Certification Program is an in-depth course in pet care, health, nutrition and behavior, and a complete first aid course. It also includes business development and management classes. After completing the coursework,  class members will take an online examination. NAAPS certification means a person has met certain requirements through education, training and testing,  Sitters then can identify themselves with the NAPPS Certified logo. Another benefit is that NAPPS' official insurer provides liability insurance discounts for pet sitters who have earned certification.

American Red Cross

Everyone knows the Red Cross offers first aid, CPR and babysitting certifications, but did you know they also offer a Pet First Aid and CPR Program? The first aid course teaches you emergency and life-saving procedures for dogs and cats plus general pet care tips. After completing the course and exam, you will know how to give medications properly, stock a pet first aid kit, recognize an emergency situation, perform CPR, and treat minor injuries as well as emergencies that need immediate attention.

In a business with stiff competition you need to appear professional to potential clients. The best way to do that is educate yourself and get certified, because you can bet your competition probably is.